The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is extending the deadline for online applications for the first round of spending on broadband infrastructure by about a week, delays attributed to an inability of the agency’s servers to handle the high volume of applicants so far.
The original deadline for online applications was today; it is now Aug. 20. Paper applications were still due by today.
The NTIA, part of the Commerce Department, has added servers to handle the flood of applications seeking a slice of the $7.2 billion that will be spent to encourage the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved parts of the country.
Some of the largest providers are apparently going to opt out of the program. Qwest, which has the highest concentration of rural customers among the largest phone companies, reportedly does not believe it can make money on extending its network, even with the free money.
AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are said to be opting out, as well, as reported by various news outlets. Reasons are varied: a belief that they have enough money to fund deployments, a desire to avoid network neutrality rules attached to the funding, a desire to avoid specifying what services they’re offering in which markets.